Casa Verde : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThe first thing that greets you when you land in Ayala, Cebu mall is its gigantic H&M hanger right in the middle of its central garden. Apparently, Cebu will see its first H&M shop, its first SM Seaside, and the grand sale at the newly opened Robinsons all on the same day. That’s good news for consumer Cebuanos, it will surely be traffic everywhere as people decide where to troop to with fam and friends.
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20151125_140908But we weren’t in Cebu for shopping, but for work, both good reasons to visit Cebu. Since we only have technically two days and a half to stay in Cebu, we made sure we made all the best food stops while we were there. First stop, its famous homegrown restaurant Casa Verde. I’m not new to Casa Verde, have tried their huge steaks and ribs servings the last time I was in Cebu. For this visit, we tried Brian’s Ribs. Two huge ribs serving plated with rice and corn/carrots on the side. No wonder waiting line at Casa Verde can be too long on peak eating hours, despite the fact that there is The Suite Room on Ayala’s upper floor, a more posh sister restaurant of Casa Verde. Remembered a better version of Brian’s Ribs, though, from my last visit than what was served today, meat was harder to bite/slice than what I can remember.
20151125_14085820151125_135648You can either dine al fresco or dine in the comfort of airconditioning indoors. We opted for the fresh air outside and also tried their French fries and their chocolate milkshake. I definitely thought we ate something that would cost us more than a thousand bucks from Manila but it was just a little over than Php500.00 combined. Good value for money.

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Chika-an Sa Cebu : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThere are five things I loved about Chika-an sa Cebu. Eversince I have started this food project for OpenRice.com, I didn’t realize I have developed a different taste for food and a different take on the places we visit. Now my mind easily associates flavours and taste with any spot in the Philippines. Today’s food experience is no different.

20151125_180408#5 Unlimited Rice

If you are ready to go for sumptuous dinner with unlimited rice, just like how Pinoys love their dinner, Chika-an sa Cebu gets this correctly. Their initial serving of rice is, I will have to say, a very big serving of rice, it is so surprising to know that unlike all other restos who offer unlimited rice and scoops the rice off a bucket, they leave you a big bowl of rice on your table that they refill unlimited.

20151125_140242#4 Unlimited Drinks

Their unlimited drinks do not taste like they had more water than tea. Also, all servers proactively ask and offer to refill your glass as soon as you drink half of it.

20151125_183412#3 Soups are served Hot

Their Sinigang na Shrimp has the ultimate Pinoy flavour, shrimp size is bigger than usual and count is also generous, says a lot about seafood fare that Cebu can offer.

20151125_183419#2 Baked Oysters are the Best

Served yummier with cheese and special flavour. This dish is certainly rice-friendly, you know how some dishes would unconsciously push you to eat more rice with it? This is that type of baked oysters.

#1 Cebu Food Experience

Cebu food experience is never complete without the flair from everything around you. All servers are clad in Pinoy costumes, makes you think they can do folk dances anytime. Their birthday surprise song is also different from Manila’s, it was really surprising and kinda worked like a mini-flash mob prod.

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Gelatissimo : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkSo how can one end the day with a sure smile? Ice Cream! Cebu has the best ice cream to offer. Ayala Terraces in Cebu houses Gelatissimo, you will know right away it is a familiar ice cream destination because there were no available tables, the only way to get one is to wait for your turn. So there are three lines to queue for, the line to pay for the ice cream, the line to get your scoops, and the line to get a table. Since I visited with four other friends, it was easy to do all at the same time.

So in no time, we got our ice cream and we got the best table, too. It is right next to the door where you can see the view from Ayala’s central garden. If you can’t take too much sugar or any sugar for health reasons, you can still visit because they offer sugar-free ice cream! Yep, ice cream that is perfect for everyone!

On our table, we went for two scoop cups: vanilla, mango, original chocolate, American chocolate and chocolate truffle.

We surely ended the night with a smile on our faces. Gobbling down ice cream as a nightcap is divine, just make sure you help yourself to a glass of water right after, though.

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Pepper Lunch : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkSo when you have reviewed almost 40 restaurants and aiming to close the month to get you to 50 restaurants reviewed, how does one keep the enjoyment of food and how does one see different food not using the eyes of a food enthusiast? Listed down today, how to get help ensure you get the best food experience from Pepper Lunch.

20151126_121914Tip1

Trying their Beef Teriyaki Pepper Rice with Egg, make sure you mix everything on your sizzling pepper lunch plate, as instructed. If you end up missing this part, egg can end up fully cooked on the sizzling plate, your rice will not have the full teriyaki flavour or your beef will be too burnt, it will crumple crisp right infront of your face.

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Tomato Sauce Pasta with Sausage may be served with a generous amount of tomato sauce, make sure you just pour whatever you think you will need for your pasta serving, otherwise, you can find your plate with more sauce than pasta.

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When sampling Kuromitsu Soft Ice cream, it is best poured or mixed with molten milk chocolate cake. Their ala mode desserts allow customers like us to mix different flavours served on one plate. Outcome? Divine dessert.

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Tsim Sha Tsui : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkWoke up today with a sore throat, realizing that I do not have enough time for breakfast, and needed to rush off to work for an early morning performance review. Just before flying off back to Manila, that’s when I realized I had nothing in my tummy. So off we went to Tsim Sha Tsui (sorry, guys, I do not know how to pronounce this name, I can’t phonetize this in my writing, wink wink). Good thing, most of the restaurant-goers would refer to this resto as TST (that’s easier). The menu looked promising with all of our usual Chinese favourites. So to combat my sore throat, I went for their congee served with hard-boiled egg, paired this with classic pork siomai.

20151127_093150Over conversations with a colleague from work, our chat over food has shifted from the most trivial eyebrow shapes, to Alma Moreno opinions to whether or not we should buy more souvenirs from Cebu.

I originally thought that this restaurant is only in Cebu but was surprised to find out that it is all over Manila, too. If your appetite is up for eat-all-you-can dimsum buffet, head to Cebu Ayala Terraces with your family and friends. Just be ready to sit elbow to elbow with others since tables are placed very near to each other.

20151127_095107They have a pocket restaurant right inside the airport, they provide folding tables to those who are seated at the boarding gate.

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Wee Nam Kee : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkMy Hainanese Chicken destination restaurant has been different, but for this food experience, we opted to try Wee Nam Kee whose bestsellers include Hainanese Chicken. This restaurant has all the traditional Chinese resto feel and surroundings. It may be missing the lazy suzan on round tables and the speakers may be playing mainstream pop music, but the food will remind you what an authentic Chinese restaurant is all about. Don’t get confused if you have associated Hainanese with other Asian countries, that’s because Hainanese which has been derived from Hainan China can almost always be ordered from other Asian countries. As if this is not confusing enough, Singapore has Hainanese chicken as its national dish, it is like our very own Adobo in the Philippines.

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20151117_12030820151117_11595820151117_115944So what is Hainanese Chicken?  At Wee Nam Kee, you have an option to go with steamed or fried chicken served with rice, chicken bone stock and specially flavoured Hainan chicken sauce. Not known to many, you can actually ask for an extra bowl of Hainan chicken sauce everytime you order Hainanese chicken.

Another must-try is Crispy Mantou Bread with Condensed Milk. Ever look back to using condensed milk as bread spread? This is the real deal, yummy bread dipped in condensed milk. On your next visit, you can go and add in Curry Noodles. It is curry with all the right flavours.

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Snitz : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkChristmas traffic has definitely hit Manila (and Quezon City). I had to experience it over the last weekend. Batangas to Manila which usually just takes 3 hours at the most became a 10-hour ride. In fact, while in transit, we were able to watch a total of three movies (No Escape, AntMan and MazeRunner2)! Yep, traffic was that bad and the wait was that long. It didn’t help that the big malls in Fairview were on sale and two out of three big malls were scheduled for their first fireworks display. It was snail-pace traffic again from Commonwealth all the way to Fairview. And so as soon as I landed in Fairview, I had to head to a spot with food, Snitz, Ayala Fairview Terraces.

I didn’t realize that Snitz is originally found in London, there was nothing about the food that suggested it was from London. We went for what seemed like filling because our feet were so tired from walking around the mall looking for the perfect PE shoes for my boys. We opted to have chicken schnitzel with different sauces, honey lemon, tartar sauce and chinese sweet and sour sauce. Unfortunately, none of it was a hit to our taste bud, we opted to go for the chicken minus the sauce.

20151114_183140 20151114_184944 20151114_183212 20151114_183148Overall, it was not an over-the-top food experience and if the other restos are full to the brim like last Saturday, will probably still go to Snitz again to eat.

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Dekada : OpenRice.Com Review

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If you are driving towards Ayala Fairview Terraces, the first thing you see are the bright lit wall of Dekada restaurant. If you are on the lookout for a quiet nook, it has its own walkway and not too much foot traffic around it. It is also connected to Wellworth ground floor and offers additional quiet space if you want to dine al fresco. Dekada offers a meryenda buffet served daily from 2pm to 6pm for only Php200.00, yep, it is eat-all-you-can for all your favourite Pinoy meryenda specialties.

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It is when you are starting to feel the Christmassy cold afternoons and I just went straight to the buffet table and had a big serving of arroz caldo with hard boiled egg. It was so tasty, I didn’t need to put any condiment on it. It may be a weird combination but I followed it with traditional pansit. Would have loved it warmer, nevertheless, I super enjoyed it I finished off the entire plate over tastier conversation with friends.

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Remembering Manila days when one can step out of the house and have your pick from a long list of meryenda options. This list always includes turon. Interestingly, I paired it with palitaw with a generous amount of sugar. Not a big fan of niyog, so I helped myself to sugar instead. They also serve brown or muscovado sugar.

20151110_162228 20151110_152923(0) 20151110_152931Then you can move on to their dinuguan and puto. Just take the time to scoop not too many pork bits. Other varieties on the table? There is their ginataang mais and halo halo.

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Marriott Garden Cafe : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThe first thing that greets you at Marriott’s Hotel’s breakfast resto Garden Cafe is their varied options for food. I am always thankful for free breakfast from hotel bookings. For sure, Marriott hotel will not be known as the preferred hotel from visitors around the world for nothing. Nearest to the entrance is their salad station, with various greens and toppings to choose from. They also have mixed toppings ready with flavoured sauce.

20151125_154637As soon as you walk in, servers ask for your preferred spot, sit you, and asks you a series of questions anytime they feel you need anything (not in an annoying, bothersome way). So we chose a spot that is quiet and asked for coffee. Tables are automatically served with a good amount of milk. Since the Garden cafe is on the same floor as the lobby/reception, whatever music you have from it is shared with the cafe’s. There was Thanksgiving night with a twist, because the Pinoy choir from the lobby sang right next to the gigantic Christmas tree. It is thanksgiving added with a Pinoy flavour.

20151126_06174720151126_06125920151126_06224420151125_151502marriott2marriott1For our breakfast, I went for the safe fare of crispy bacon, rice, and ham. All my meat favourite dishes are also served on heat, keeping it fresh and refilled until breakfast ends at 10am.

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Cold Stone Creamery : OpenRice.Com Review

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Coming off from a Saturday outreach activity, we all opted to go for ice cream. There were a couple of ice cream shops just right outside our workplace and we went with Cold Stone Creamery’s airconditioned spot, the other one serves ice cream but you will need to eat it bistro style sans AC.

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Right at the door, this ice cream shop is hard to miss with their staff dancing with choreographed steps with the menus on their hands. As soon as you step in, you will get the best attention as they give you all the information you will need to make it the best ice cream experience for you. That is not enough, to add to the fun, you can either choose to watch how they make your ice cream (these ice cream staff will give your dancing bartenders a run for their money). They also randomly ask their customers to catch your scoop of ice cream on your cup/cone! (my Gab surely enjoyed this on our previous visit).

Based on my Pinoy serving, I find the waffle servings small, so I went with Cheesecake fantasy on their biggest cup and I asked that the waffle be served on a separate cup instead. My friends all did the same! It was the best waffle dipped in ice cream experience of strawberries, and a generous amount of Graham crackers plus cheesecake.

My friends also got creative with theirs, one with three different caramel scoops in one cup: salted caramel, banana caramel crunch and chocolate caramel and the other with Chocolate devotion.

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